Autism App Fatigue: What is it and How to overcome it

App fatigue is a term used to define the constant battle we face with staying up to date on available Apps within a particular sector. This is particularly evident within the Autism sector where a plethora of Apps are available for multiple purposes. With the large selection of Apps available it becomes difficult to select just one App that meets your needs. Thus, we find ourselves downloading a multitude of similar Apps with the hopes that one will do the trick! When these aspirations are not met, for reasons beyond the control of the user, the Apps become misused or unused. All of that searching for an App and it is now useless. We then come to a point where the App is simply abandoned and remains on our screen taking up valuable selfie storage. We may also have been supporting a person with Autism to begin using the App, (which can be an uphill battle in itself), which is now not meeting their needs. We then feel like a complete failure and it has all been a waste of time. But wait, now there is a new cooler App that revolutionises your experience; so you download that too…. We have then entered the world of Autism App Fatigue.

Not only do we get exhausted by the amount of Apps we have downloaded (with the same aim/purpose) so too does the person with Autism that we are supporting. It can be difficult for people with Autism to adapt and accept new interventions into their programme and switching between Apps runs the risk of creating adverse associations. As a result of this, the person may not want to engage with any App for some time; thus, restricting their potential progress. This is a viscous circle and we eventually become exhausted by the amount of Apps available and we become overwhelmed by their presence; so, we stop using all of the Apps and retreat back to the couch with a cup of tea. You have just suffered from App fatigue. But there is a way to bypass this and the following steps will provide you with this guide.

1. Baby steps: The majority of us learn to crawl, walk and run in that sequence; however, when it comes to Apps we tend to forget this logic. Therefore, before you download every App available within the search term take a moment to think and take small steps. Start by downloading one App; yes, just one App. This will lead you smoothly into step two.

2. Judge: As humans (yes, men included) we have an automatic instinct to judge people, products and services. We are also quick to moan about it if it is not up to our standard. First though, we need to identify the standard we are measuring against. So, before you judge an App you need to figure out what you need from the App. Make a list of your needs and wants, interact with the App (yes, you are still using only one App) and then evaluate the features of the App with your needs. If the App does not meet the majority or all of your needs then it is not the right App for you.

3. Resist the urge: when you revisit your App store resist the urge to download several more Apps. Take time to choose another App that may be suitable and begin judging it again based on your needs that you identified in step two. Continue this loop until you find your perfect match!

With the plethora of Apps available now; especially in the disability sector, it is easy to fall into the trap of App fatigue. Therefore, we need to remember that we only take one intervention at a time when supporting people with disabilities and we must do the same with Apps. When using several Apps, all of which have a different system, we and the people we support get confused. Thus, none of the Apps meet our needs as they are being misused or are simply not right for the person. In conclusion, providing evidence for elimination of an intervention is key to a persons development and the use of Apps is no different. We need to be able to identify an App as being ineffective for a person (after gathering evidence on this with the person) before moving to another App in a similar category. Taking one step (or App) at a time goes a long way to finding an intervention that meets the need of the person you are supporting. This is a strengths and evidenced based approach to the selection of interventions.

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